Sometimes I catch myself thinking silence is not important and actually a waste of my precious time. There are always chores to do, people to communicate with and ‘busi-ness’ to busy myself with.
If life is so short, why bother sitting still once or twice a day? Why be alone if I can relate to and have fun with others? Why be idle if I can be working?
The Benedictine monks as well as the author and priest Henri Nouwen (in his book Out of Solitude*) recognized the value of silence and solitude.
Let’s look at four benefits of silence and solitude according to monks and Henri Nouwen:
Silence as antidote to impulsiveness and lack of focus
Noise spreads my focus thin, silence enhances it. If my mind is like a laser beam, I am sharper, more focused and present in and after a period of silence.
Distraction is a post-modern public enemy and we need silence as a healthy antidote, to stop the addictive yearning for always more stimuli.
“Silence requires the discipline to recognize the urge to get up and go again as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is close at hand.” Henri Nouwen
Silence as a way to my emotions and my heart
Sitting still and listening revives my strength and restores my emotional balance. I tap into new energy at the source when I find “the freedom to stroll in my own inner yard, and to rake up the leaves there and clear the paths so I can easily find the way to my heart.” (H.N.)
Silence to find order and peace, make a ‘cozy home’
Silence is a gift to myself, reconnecting to a power greater than me, someone I call God, just as the Benedictines and Nouwen do. A way of really being present.
When I am not ‘home’ in my own heart, who can I receive there?
“Slowly and surely you will discover an order and familiarity which deepens your longing to stay home”
Silence to learn to listen
Listening to something or someone greater than ourselves requires turning inward instead of being in a constant reactive state.
We might receive an intuitive thought or helpful guidance when we ‘just’ sit still for a while.
Being attentive to another person is another fruit I can reap from spending time in silence and solitude.
“Hearken continually within thine heart, O son, giving attentive ear to the precepts of thy master.”
(Prologue Rule of Benedict)
I’ve noticed that my habit of being still morning and evening is developing, now that I’ve grown accustomed to a big change in my life.
I love living this life, seasoned with some Benedictine flavour!
How are you doing this week, developing some Benedictine habits?
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